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Which wireless carrier is best for you? Verizon, probably, but check for yourself

Mark Hachman | Feb. 11, 2015
Verizon unquestionably is the best wireless carrier, according to a comprehensive nationwide study of the service provided by the top four U.S. wireless providers during the second half of 2014.

"Now that T-Mobile has firmly established its LTE rollout at the metro level, we anticipate that improved performance could start to push out beyond the urban areas and transitory reliability issues related to the upgrade process could also improve," RootMetrics wrote.

Overall, however, Verizon was still the best overall carrier in 113 of the 125 metro markets that RootMetrics tested. AT&T was second, with 51.

Rising tides lifted all boats.  RootMetrics also called out Sprint's improvement at the state level as the other big story, especially in network reliability. But metrics for all carriers improved, especially in the hotly contested metro areas, RootMetrics found.

What's best for you?

Most consumers don't pay attention to coverage maps, assuming their service should work just about anywhere. (After all, it's 2015, right?) That's still not true, however. 

Fortunately, there's a solution. RootMetrics provides a nationwide, zoomable coverage map, where you can assess each network from a nationwide perspective or zoom right down to where you live. There's one caveat, though: the RootMetrics coverage map offers a subset of RootMetrics' nationwide results. So you'll be able to see which carrier offers good call performance in a given area, but not what the average download speed will be.

RootMetrics also offers an app for both iOS and Android that will allow you to drill down and either test your network yourself, right where you are, or see results that other users have compiled. (Note: your results will be anonymously passed along to RootMetrics.) Alternatives include OpenSignal, which supplies similar information.

With carriers like T-Mobile offering to buy you out of your contract, now, you might benefit from switching from Verizon's generally pricier service to something that's a bit less expensive. And if you've been a customer of a particular carrier for years ("only Sprint works out here") you might be unaware that you now have additional options. 

So here's what you should do: If you haven't already, check out the coverage maps above to see whether you can actually switch, without losing signal on the highway or while you're on that fishing trip you've planned for the spring. Then figure out what you're paying in wireless costs, and whether another carrier offers a better deal, or freebies. And if they do — call your wireless carrier and see if they'll talk you out of a move with a discount. We've proven negotiating discounts already works with companies like Comcast, and there's every reason to give it a try with your wireless carrier as well. 


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